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Panama power brokers stole over $1 billion from public coffers

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Panama  power brokers stole   over $1 billion from public coffers - report


kenia Porcell

Posted 20/12/2019

Political economic, social and media power brokers formed a “criminal organization” that diverted more than a billion dollars from public coffers to their pockets says outgoing Attorney General,  Kenia Porcell , in her final report released on Friday, December 20. The name of former president Ricardo Martinelli surfaces several times

$416 million has already been recovered she says

Porcell says  that in her five years at the head of the Public Prosecutor's Office 116 cases of corruption were investigated; More than 75% await the holding of a hearing, "which means that criminal justice does not fulfill its ends when it faces economic, political, social or media power."

She  asks the population to be vigilant "and demand that the processes conclude with the punishment of those responsible and the reimbursement of public money."

“Let's think about our children. They do not deserve a country where crime and private interests are above the law, the Constitution and justice, ”

In the 82- page report she explains where the most relevant cases investigated in the last five years sit. The  Odebrecht bribes case is waiting for the First Superior Court of Justice of Panama to take care of an Amparo of guarantees presented by the anti-corruption prosecutor Zuleyka Moore, to extend the investigation deadlines. 122 international calls for assistance have been initiated  and 35 responses received; 16 penalty and collaboration agreements have been validated, and 82 people have been charged or the alleged commission of crimes ranging from money laundering and international bribery, to corruption of public officials. According to the Public Ministry, the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office has “recovered” $266.8 million.

The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor also advances the investigation for irregularities in the extension project of section II of the Corredor-Vía Brasil, in which, according to an audit of the Comptroller's Office, an overprice of $ 41.7 million was determined. There are 14 people linked to the alleged commission of the crime of peculation. “The legal representative of the legal entity of the construction company was also expensive”; the contractor of the work in the Spanish capital firm FCC.

Regarding the investigation of bribes paid to officials by state contractors through the Blue Apple company , Eight collaboration and penalty agreements have been agreed. A fiscal hearing was sent with request for appeal to trial to the Eighteenth Criminal Court.

There is also a count of several causes related to purchases - of dehydrated food, tires, musical instruments, grains ... - with funds from the extinct National Assistance Program (PAN) between 2009-2014. It one of the former PAN directors is being investigated for alleged money laundering, after being linked to a $42 million account in a Swiss bank; to another with $17 million in Grand Cayman, and several in Miami, for $80 million. In, in addition, a mansion valued at $4 million,  in Coral Gables.

In  the New Business case , the court extended the investigation deadlines until March 26, 2020. Here the participation of 18 people and four companies that mobilized $3.9 million, allegedly for the purchase of the shares of the Epasa editorial group,[controlled by Ricardo Martinelli] is investigated.

 The investigation has determined so far that in the purchase of public funds previously disbursed from State contractors. In this case, the Public Ministry sent to the United States a request for an exception to the specialty rule governing the extradition principle, in order to investigate former president Ricardo Martinelli

According to the specialty rule, Martinelli can only be investigated for the case for which he was extradited by the United States to Panama, on June 11, 2018: that of illegal wiretapping.

In  the wiretapping case An appeal for annulment and another appeal, pending by the prosecutors and the victims of the case, are pending against the decision of the three judges who on August 9 declared Martinelli not guilty of the crimes of political espionage and embezzlement.

As of January 2, 2020Porcell  will be replaced by former prosecutor  Eduardo Ulloa.



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That's and ENORMOUS amount of money !!!   Let us hope for the sake of this country that the recovery of money will find a home where it belongs: ......schools, juvenile rehab facilities, Community restoration in poor communities of Panama City,  waste management in Panama City,  .........the list is long.   Unfortunately corruption seems to bounce around between political parties in the pockets of the corrupt and already very rich politicians.   

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